Friday, May 25, 2012

Three Things that Surprised Me About Self-Publishing

By Jordan Dane

(Only three, you say?) I’ve taken a step into the self-publishing arena by releasing a short story anthology – Sex, Death and Moist Towelettes – and have a single story released separately as a sampler – Dark Kiss.

SexDeathMoistTowelettes_500x700 DARK KISS - Short Story Cover (2) 120429 One Authors Aha Moments - Jordan Dane - Final (3)_opt SMALLER FILE
I’ve also released my first non-fiction book “One Author’s Aha Moments – Writing Revelations with a Focuson the Young Adult Market.” This non-fiction book is geared toward aspiring authors. My advice comes from my personal experiences on writing fiction for adult and teen markets and what has worked for me. Topics include: Young Adult fiction themes, voice, and characteristics; how to create characters editors look for & give them a unique voice; plot structure that even a non-plotter can love; how to hook your book; the writer’s life, goal setting, editing, book promotion and more. I hope my book will kindle a fire in aspiring authors to write—a passion worth pursuing.
Today I wanted to share some things that surprised me about self-publishing and to share my early journey.

1.) Bundled versus Ala Carte Service Providers – I thought this would be an easy decision to use a service provider who does it all: formatting, editing, cover design, etc. I’d rather spend my time writing than figuring out formatting. But after getting experience with bundled services versus ala carte service providers, I found it may pay to work separately with a few key players (a formatter, cover designer, and copy editor) that I trust. That type of relationship takes time to build upon. Editors are one facet of the business where an indie author should consider developing a close working relationship on all sizes of projects. I love my editor at Harlequin Teen and needed to find someone that challenges me as much as my HQTeen editor does. When you self-publish, you get a say in how that goes, even if it takes time to find that one right person. The same goes for cover design. For certain projects, I can choose to do my own cover and keep the idea simple. But for bigger projects, I have some “go to” folks that I trust.

2.) Distribution Takes Time & Decisions Need to be Made – I can’t believe I 'm saying this, but on certain projects, I may decide to set up a production schedule in the future. For my non-fiction print book – One Author’s Aha Moments – I didn’t realize that it would take 6 weeks for CreateSpace to distribute my print book to the various retailers. Launching my book had to be done in e-book first. Once I get my POD print books, I’ll consider doing more contests. But I still like being able to make those decisions and with the virtual shelf life, I’m in it for the long haul and not just the first few months. This time it didn‘t hurt me, but it’s definitely something to consider.

3.) Indie Authors Have a Different Focus for their Online Presence – I spent time setting up profiles on places that I’ve never considered because my house handled this, sites like OverDrive that gets my book into libraries. If an author has 10 titles or more, they can be set up at OverDrive as a publisher. I updated my profile at LibraryThing, Shelfari, Goodreads, and Amazon Central (where I can update my own reviews & endorsements). These are all free and authors should take advantage of this promo op. Having profiles in multiple spots is a way of extending your brand and your name, plus it creates more hits on the Internet. This gives the perception that you as an author are “all over the place.”

Right now I’m working angles on getting reviews, setting up guest spots with bloggers, and conducting contests. Some blogs don’t do e-books, but I’ve made notes of sites that do. It takes time to work these kinks out. I hope to post more on my self-publishing adventures as I discover new things. I hope you’ll follow ADR3NALIN3 in the weeks ahead.

In the mean time, I have a contest on my Fringe Dweller YA blog or hit the link on the ADR3NALIN3 side bar. Click on my cover “One Author’s Aha Moments” to see how to enter. I’ve giving away FIVE e-books and the contest ends June 30th. Good luck to everyone who enters!

What I’d like to know today is: Where do you find your books? Online? Bookstore? Library? And do you have an e-reader?


Paula Millhouse said...


It's an eye-opener to realize everything a publisher does for writers, isn't it? If only it weren't for those pesky one-sided contracts...

I find my books from blogs like this, TKZ, my GoodReads group, and my local bookclub here in North Georgia - nothing like Word-of-Mouth. Oh, and the Library too.

I buy them online, mostly from Amazon because I have a Kindle Touch, with the cool e-ink display.

I also love to peruse my second-hand bookstore because the bookstore maven knows what I like to read.

Can't wait to read your new books! Congrats!


Jordan Dane said...

Hey Paula. Good morning. Yes, it's been an eye-opener to see the differences between traditional publisher offerings & what an indie author does. The contract language, terms, & rights grab has made me re-evaluate things from project to project.

I've been fortunate to have both experiences. I still would like to keep straddling the line because I think it can be advantageous for me AND for any house I work with. Promoting my brand name between projects can be a plus, promo-wise, for my house.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Happy writing!

Leeanna said...

I'm so happy you're writing more about self-publishing! Again, I've learned things I didn't know about. I'm the type to "worry about it later," so there's a ton I don't know about publishing, traditional or indie. These are all things I probably should be aware of, or at least have in the back of my mind. I've already been wondering about building a brand, and the best way to go about doing so. I can see using my blog as a start, but then I'm considering writing under a pen-name, so I would lose that "captive audience" if I did.

To answer your question, I get my books everywhere. I tend to order online for books I buy, because there aren't any real bookstores within a reasonable driving distance of me anymore. And a lot of what I want isn't always at the store anyway, so it's easier to order online. I prefer Amazon, and then the Book Depository.

I don't have a "dedicated" e-reader, but I do use my phone (Android) and tablet (Android) to read e-books. Between those two, I don't want to carry anything extra with me, and I prefer reading on a backlit screen. It's much easier in bed! On both devices I prefer epubs, although I do have Amazon's Kindle reader installed for those books. Amazon's Kindle reader has one big advantage over any Android reader I've found -- you can sync. I use Aldiko to read books, and I can't sync between my tablet and phone without using an additional app.

I get ebooks from the library, from contests, for reviewing, and also a lot of the free Kindle books. I also borrow books from the library like crazy; I come home with one a day, usually. I work there, so there's always something catching my eye when I take a walk.

Jordan Dane said...

Leeanna--you are smart to be considering a brand & perhaps make sure any possible pen names are purchased & reserved, including twitter & facebook. Buying a domain name is cheap & the rest are free.

I'm hoping to do more on self-publishing as I "discover" things. Promotion & distribution is a huge topic. I'm learning. Self-publishing can be a WIN WIN for any traditional house you end up with too.

Thanks for sharing. I forgot about Book Depository.

Leeanna said...


Yep. I've signed up two possible pennames for myself, and have reserved Twitter/email accounts. I haven't gotten domains yet, simply because I'm not sure if I will use them. But I do have my own first name for a domain. You can't beat "" If I do decide to use my own name. I'm still pondering, but honestly, I need to produce some content before I over think everything!

I can see how it would be a win win. When they like an author, readers look everywhere to find everything they can by that author. I'd probably buy up anything, self-published or not, for a favorite author. The same is true in reverse.

I'm not sure if it's helpful to you or not, but I have learned this weekend that getting a book with Adobe DRM onto a phone is a freaking hassle.

I'm looking forward to more posts. I find this stuff *fascinating!*

Jordan Dane said...

Hey Leeanna--Yes, you can definitely overthink stuff. I'm doing that now. HA!

If you have your digital books on Amazon and B&N (which are the easiest systems to upload and distribute to), then you've tapped into about 60-70% of the retailers selling ebooks. But setting that in motion doesnt mean readers will know how to find you. I'm learning about all the places you can develop your outreach, but it takes time.

I'll be posting something on indies on THE KILL ZONE on Thursday, May 31, but will post it here too. I hope to do a series of postings on my experiences with self-publishing.

As for DRM, I've heard that readers consider it a hassle and it's best to not opt for it. If pirates want to steal your work, DRM isnt going to stop them. I've opted out of PDF and txt files on Smashwords, because I've heard it's easier to pirate those, but Smashwords is tougher to use than Amazon or B&N. Lots to deal with, but once you gain some experience, you'll know what works best for you and what you have time for.